ABC News President: ‘Great Challenges and Huge Opportunities’ Ahead

By Chris Ariens 

James Goldston, in his first full TV season as president of ABC News, has emailed staffers congratulating them on a “successful year” and for helping produce “a stellar and memorable season.”

As we reported earlier, Good Morning America won its third season in a row, World News Tonight finished with its best season in 8 years, and Nightline was No. 1 in viewers (1.593M) over NBC’s Late Night and CBS’s Late, Late Show.

“There are great challenges and huge opportunities for ABC News in the year ahead,” Goldston writes, in a nod to the the highly-competitive TV news business.

The challenges include NBC’s Today show, which just won its third week in a row in the ad-friendly A25-54 demo, a troubling trend for ABC News. Meanwhile, CBS This Morning, the only network morning show to grow its viewership vs. last season, hasn’t been this close to Today in more than 20 years.

In the evenings, NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt has retaken the overall lead after Muir’s World News Tonight got off to a strong start last year, including winning the 4th quarter of 2014 in the demo. ABC News also oversees The View, which, for the second year in a row, has a new production team and talent.

Here’s Goldston’s note:

Team –

I have great news to share with all of you. The final results for the 2014-2015 television season are in, and ABC News, across every day part, has had another incredibly successful year.

From Darren Wilson to Caitlyn Jenner, unparalleled access to the 2016 contenders, the Cleveland kidnapping survivors and an historic hour with Pope Francis, on the biggest events, issues and cultural touchstones of the last 12 months, ABC News was there, with the exclusive interviews that drove a national conversation on politics, civil rights, race and justice and religion. In Syria, Ferguson, Tehran, Charleston, Baltimore, Philadelphia, the Vatican, Havana, Nepal and beyond – you’ve put compelling journalism and masterful storytelling front and center, showing again and again what this team can accomplish together.

Let me share just a few ratings highlights –

• For the 3rd season in a row, GMA finished #1 in Total Viewers and Adults 25-54, winning every single week this season as America’s favorite morning newscast and 41 out of 52 weeks in the news demo. The last time GMA won three consecutive seasons in Total Viewers and Adults 25-54 was 20 years ago.

• World News Tonight with David Muir finished its highest-rated season in eight years, drawing nearly half a million more viewers every night to deliver its most competitive season with NBC in seven years

• Nightline ranked #1 in Total Viewers, its first win and largest audience in its new time slot since the switch

• 20/20 delivered its most-watched season in eight years and was #1 in its time slot in both Adults 18-49 and Adults 25-54, improving over last season in every measure

• This Week with George Stephanopoulos turned in an historic performance, ranking #1 in Adults 25-54 to take the top spot on Sundays for the first time in 21 years and delivering the strongest news demo performance in six years

• GMA Saturday was once again the #1 morning newscast, winning the season in Total Viewers and the news demo for the third straight year; GMA Sunday outpaced NBC for the 2nd season in a row with substantially larger advantages season to season in both metrics

• Our weekend editions of World News Tonight slashed the ratings gap with NBC by double digits, delivering their most competitive performance in 20 years

• America This Morning ranked #1 in both Total Viewers and Adults 25-54 for an astonishing 14 consecutive seasons. World News Now ranked #1 in both measures, taking the top spot for the third season running

• The Yahoo-ABC News Network has been the #1 source for news and information online for an incredible 41 straight months

In a few weeks we will accept two prestigious Murrow awards for Overall Excellence in Journalism in Television and Radio for the second year in a row – an historic first for any network. I am incredibly proud that we share this success across our entire organization.

A new season is now beginning with tremendous coverage of the Pope’s historic visit here. There are great challenges and huge opportunities for ABC News in the year ahead. I can’t wait to see what all of you come up with next.

A heartfelt thank you and congratulations for a stellar and memorable season.